This article highlights an amillennial interpretation of the book of Revelation.

Update September 8, 2013: Since writing this article I've adopted a strictly literalmethodology of Bible interpretation. Symbols are real and have a tangible existence in the spiritual realm.


Links to topics:

Date of Writing | Principles of Interpretation | Key Interpretation Points | System of Interpretation | Is There a Temple? | 3–1/2 Years | The Roman Emperors | The "Unholy Trinity" | The 7 Seals

Links to other articles:

Glossary of Symbols | Key Issues

   End Time Prophecy Leads to Rome | The Kingdom of Israel


Revelation — Verse by Verse Commentary


Chapter:   1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  8  (seal 7) |  9  (trumpet 5  6) |  9  |  10  |  11  (trumpet 7) |  11  |  12  |  13  |  14  |  15  |  16  (bowls) |  16  |  17  |  18  |  19  |  20  |  21  |  22 

Seal Judgments | Trumpet & Bowl Judgments


Chapter 1


Verse 1 (Chapter 1) — The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. . . .

Soon — The impending tribulation. 22:6

The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place. (Revelation 22:6)

Also used in Romans 16:20 — The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The phrase "soon crush Satan under your feet" might refer to the acceptance of Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine which resulted in an end of the persecution.

In Romans 16:20, Paul is emphasizing both the certainty and the rest that will come as a result, and how in the grand scheme of things, it will seem like this time of trial was very brief. That the word "soon" means this is clear, because Christ already defeated Satan at the cross, and will "crush him under their feet" at the second coming (parousia) and final judgment. Even Full Preterists have difficulty explaining this in any other way, since Satan was defeated at the cross and is still defeated today, over 1,900 years later. There was no additional defeat of Satan in 70 A.D.

Note that the events in the book of Revelation take place "soon." Full Preterists believe this all happened in 70 A.D. but I reject this view (more info).

The persecuted believers who first read the book of Revelation would find it encouraging to know that God's judgment of wickedness is assured.

There is a sense in which the future events predicted in the book of Revelation would take place soon. A few examples:

  1. Jerusalem was destroyed in 135 A.D.
  2. The Roman Empire fell in 476 A.D. as a judgment for its wickedness.
  3. The Emperor Domitian died within a year after the book of Revelation was written and he was certainly judged by God at his death.
  4. There would continue to be persecution in the early centuries of the Church up to the time of Constantine. This would include martyrdom for many believers.
  5. When people die they receive judgment at their death — some end up in heaven, some in hell. That happens soon for every person since everyone dies within a hundred years.

Start of Chapter 1 | Glossary | Index


Verse 3 (Chapter 1) — Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, . . . because the time is near.

Also used in Matthew 3:2 — Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.

This emphasizes God's urgency in judging those who persecute Christians, which would be a comfort to those enduring persecution.

The word prophecy refers to: (1) foretelling the future (prediction), as well as (2) telling it like it is (illumination). The book of Revelation is prophetic in both these senses:

(1) Predictive prophecy:

(2) Illuminative prophecy:

Start of Chapter 1 | Glossary | Index


Verse 4 (Chapter 1) — . . . him who is, and who was, and who is to come, . . .

Refers to God the Father, who is always present. Verses 4 and 5 contain a reference to the three persons of the Trinity.

Compare Revelation 17:8-11 — The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. "This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction."

God is eternal, but the Beast and the kings of this world are limited by the bounds of time and operate within the bounds of time.

Start of Chapter 1 | Glossary | Index


Verse 5 (Chapter 1) — and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. . . .

Note that this is a present truth, not reserved for the future (in the millennium as premillennialists believe).

Start of Chapter 1 | Glossary | Index


Verse 6 (Chapter 1) — and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father. . .

In contrast, premillennialism insists that believers will have a physical, political, carnal rule over the inhabitants of the 1,000 yearmillennium. But amillennialism acknowledges that each believer rules and reigns with Christ NOW (in the church age):

Start of Chapter 1 | Glossary | Index


Verse 7 (Chapter 1) — Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. . . .

This is not the rapture because in the rapture the only people who see him are those who are raptured. But this verse says that every eye will see Him (including people who died centuries before).

When Christ comes for final judgment (1) the wicked will mourn because they will be judged for their sins, and (2) the righteous will mourn as they consider that Christ had to pay the penalty for their sins by His suffering and dying.

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. . . "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9,11)

Start of Chapter 1 | Glossary | Index


Verse 18 (Chapter 1) — I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Emphasizing Christ's resurrection and applying it to us — we will also be resurrected, and when we are there will be no more death. This happens once — not several times as premillennialists claim. When we are resurrected (at the second coming) death is abolished. Compare:

The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. (Revelation 20:13-14)

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Verse 19 (Chapter 1) — Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

(1) What you have seen (in these visions),

(2) What is now — the current situation of the first readers (persecution, martyrdom, believers in heaven),

(3) What will take place later — there is a future prophetic element — it concerns the future persecution of Christians, the fall of Jerusalem and Rome, the second coming, final judgment, and the eternal state.

Start of Chapter 1 | Glossary | Index


Verse 20 (Chapter 1) — The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

This refers to the guardian angels of the local churches, and to the authoritative leaders of

This supports the view of the Catholic Church that it is the visible church.

This verse affirms that Christ is working in His church — that we can trust Him.

Start of Chapter 1 | Glossary | Index


Chapter 2


Verse 2 (Chapter 2) — . . . that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.

Not only is there persecution from (1) the Romans and (2) the Jews and Judaizers: there are also false teachers within the Church. In the history of the church this issue comes up again and again.

Start of Chapter 2 | Glossary | Index


Chapter 3


Verse 10 (Chapter 3) — . . . I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

Not an event in the far future as premillennialists claim. The trial is for testing.

A common theme in the book of Revelation is the persecution of believers. This had already begun in the Roman province of Asia (where John and the 7 churches were located) and would intensify and spread over a wide area for several centuries.

Some premillennialists of the pre-tribulational rapture variety apply this verse to the great tribulation which precedes the second coming of Christ. They claim that God keeps them from the hour of trial (the great tribulation) by rapturing them first. But John is speaking specifically to the church that existed at the time he wrote the book and clearly expects his words to apply directly to those readers.

The word "trial" could be better translated as "temptation" (as in the KJV). Another passage using this word:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

The temptation they will experience is to renounce their faith under intense persecution. But as Paul affirms, God will provide a way out so they can stand up under it.

It is a common theme in the New Testament that God will test the faith of every believer to prove which will endure to the end (by being faithful unto death).

Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5)

Start of Chapter 3 | Glossary | Index


Chapter 4


Verse 1 (Chapter 4) — . . . .a door standing open in heaven. . . . "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this."

Not the rapture as many premillennialists claim. The scene now shifts to heaven and the throne of God.

Start of Chapter 4 | Glossary | Index


Verse 4 (Chapter 4) — Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.

The 24 elders refer to the 12 tribes of Israel plus the 12 apostles representing all believers of all ages. Notice their activities:

From Strong's Exhaustive Concordance we learn that the word "crown" refers to: a chaplet as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games, or a symbol of honor generally, but more conspicuous and elaborate than the simple fillet. A chaplet is a wreath worn on the head whereas a fillet is a narrow band or ribbon.

Even Jesus had a crown as illustrated by the following verse using the same word:

The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. (John 19:2)

But the crown in Revelation 4:4 is made of gold and is a reward.

Start of Chapter 4 | Glossary | Index


Verse 5 (Chapter 4) — From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.

Some parallel verses and an observation:

Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:5)

Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. (Revelation 11:19)

Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. (Revelation 16:18)

These occur (respectively) after:

The 6th seal judgment and the 7th trumpet and bowl judgments represent the final judgment (second coming of Christ, destruction of the world, great white throne judgment). The significance of the associated natural phenomena is that they symbolically represent God's power and holiness in judgment. So in Revelation 4:5 we see that God is always holy and just, because that is His nature.

Two passages that equate the flash of lightning with God's judgment:

The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. (Psalms 1-5)

He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal. I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish. Were you angry with the rivers, O LORD? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode with your horses and your victorious chariots? You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. Selah You split the earth with rivers; the mountains saw you and writhed. Torrents of water swept by; the deep roared and lifted its waves on high. Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations. (Habakkuk 3:6-12)

Start of Chapter 4 | Glossary | Index


Verse 6 (Chapter 4) — Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. . . .

The sea is a symbol of God's holiness. Later we have the sea of glass mixed with fire (the Lake of Fire) (15:2). It is significant that the Lake of Fire, the final place of eternal judgment, is expressed in terms of God's holiness. God expresses His holiness by permanently judging sin.

The word "sea" is also used in another context — the earthly ocean representing:

Start of Chapter 4 | Glossary | Index


Chapter 5


Verse 1 (Chapter 5) — Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.

But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge. (Daniel 12:4)

The time of the end in Daniel 12:4 is the church age, and the words of Daniel's scroll are revealed in the book of Revelation, in the scroll with the 7 seals. Once we have knowledge about God's plan (the church age, the second coming, final judgment, and the eternal state), then we can read Daniel's scroll. But John doesn't emphasize the contents of the scroll, only the seals that prevent us from reading it.

Premillennialists commonly claim that the scroll is the title deed to the earth, but this is only significant in the context of their view in which Christ, at His second coming, takes possession of the earth. In amillennialism the issue is irrelevant because Christ has already defeated Satan at the cross.

Start of Chapter 5 | Glossary | Index


Verse 5 (Chapter 5) — . . . See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.

Note that Christ has already triumphed — it is not a future event. The 7 seals are not future prophecies (except seals 6 and 7 which refer to final judgment). Rather, the 7 seals describe present realities at the time the book of Revelation was written. These issues continue into the future until the final judgment.

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Verses 9 & 10 (Chapter 5) — And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."

It is Christ's sacrificial death that makes Him worthy. Because of this, believers are now a kingdom and priests who will reign on the earth for the duration of the church age which continues until the second coming of Christ and the final judgment.

Start of Chapter 5 | Glossary | Index


Chapter 6


The 7 Seals

These give a sweeping panoramic view of human history — the issues that will be faced by all generations of believers. These are not events in a chronological sequence but rather are a list of key issues.

The scroll is opened after the 7 seals are broken.

Start of Chapter 6 | Glossary | Index


Seal 1

Verse 2 (Chapter 6) — I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

That people will use weapons to conquer others and that this will continue for the duration of human history.

Bow — The Parthians, who were only mounted archers of the first century A.D. across the Euphrates River. Rome considered them quite a threat. See Nero Redivivus myth.

Some say that this refers to Christ, who rules and reigns in His church. I don't care for this view because it seems to me that the four horses are referring to similar things, but Christ's victory on the cross is altogether different.

Start of Chapter 6 | Glossary | Index


Seal 2

Verse 4 (Chapter 6) — Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.

Red — Bloodshed.

Sword — Warfare.

That people will kill each other and that there will continue to be wars throughout human history.

Start of Chapter 6 | Glossary | Index


Seal 3

Verse 6 (Chapter 6) — Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!"

This is the black horse which represents famine. A day's wages will buy only enough food for a day — there will be poverty for the masses.

Oil & wine — These are not luxury items but are staples. They represent a severe famine but not a total famine. The image refers to the Roman plan to cut down olive orchards and vineyards and to replace them with grain fields to survive a famine.

An alternate interpretation is that there will be plenty of oil and wine and that they represent luxuries that only the wealthy can afford. The well-to-do will survive but there well be poverty for the masses. This represents economic injustice.

Some see the images of oil (= Holy Spirit) and wine (= joy) as symbolic, but I prefer to understand them in their literal meaning. Otherwise, we should symbolize the images of wheat and barley also.

Start of Chapter 6 | Glossary | Index


Seal 4

Verse 8 (Chapter 6) — I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Pale — Pestilence & death.

That death will continue for the remainder of human history. This is from all causes including the sword, famine, disease, and wild animals.

Start of Chapter 6 | Glossary | Index


Seal 5

Verse 9 (Chapter 6) — When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.

Special emphasis on Christian martyrs. This will continue for the remainder of human history.

Start of Chapter 6 | Glossary | Index


Seal 6

Verses 12 & 14 (Chapter 6) — I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

In response to a question by the martyrs, Christ returns and judges the world.

They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" (Revelation 6:10)

Chapter 34 of Isaiah concerns final judgment.

All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree. (Isaiah 34:4)

This passage cross-references with the Olivet Discourse.

Immediately after the distress of those days "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken." At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29-30)

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Seal 7

After an interlude (Chapter 7)

Verse 1 (Chapter 8) — When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

The rest of the eternal state.

The word "silence" is used in these ways:

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Chapter 7

An interlude between the second coming of Christ and final judgment (Seal 6) and the eternal state (Seal 7). We are introduced to the redeemed who will inhabit heaven. These are represented by the 144,000.


Verses 3 & 4 (Chapter 7) — "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

Do not harm until. . . — During the destruction of the 6th seal, which is the destruction of the earth by fire.

Seal on the foreheads — Indicates the redemption of believers by faith. God seals those who are His. Only then will He destroy the world by fire — after He has redeemed His own. Since the 144,000 refer specifically to martyrs from the early centuries of the Church, the sealing also represents the special grace that God gives to martyrs which allows them to persevere until the end.

These 144,000 appear later in the book:

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. . . . And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:1-3)

The 144,000 represent all believers (the Church = Israel). Note that only they could sing the new song, meaning that only they are redeemed (Old Testament believers are included in the ranks of the redeemed). The 144,000 refer specifically to martyrs from the early centuries of the Church.

The land, sea and trees are destroyed in the first two trumpet judgments and the first two bowl judgments. In this passage, these first two judgments represent all the judgments (which are parallel judgments). By delaying these judgments until the servants of God (= believers) are sealed, God is affirming that they will escape the final judgment.

Start of Chapter 7 | Glossary | Index


Verse 9 (Chapter 7) — After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Palm branches — Victory and rejoicing after war.

The image of the "great multitude" is the same as the 144,000. They have palm branches because they acknowledge Christ as Messiah.

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!" (John 12:13)

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Verse 14 (Chapter 7) — I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

The great tribulation is the persecution and martyrdom of the entire church age, specifically for the first few centuries after the book of Revelation was written. It includes the persecution by Domitian, by the Romans until Constantine, and throughout the church age.

Start of Chapter 7 | Glossary | Index


Chapter 8


Verses 4 & 5 (Chapter 8) — The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

Our prayers are effective. When persecuted believers cry out to God, He responds. God receives these prayers (incense), and His judgment on the unrighteous is just, in part because persecuted believers ask God to avenge them.

The 7 trumpet judgments and final judgment are in response to these prayers.

The destruction of the world immediately before final judgment will be by fire:

By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10)

That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. (2 Peter 3:12)

Start of Chapter 8 | Glossary | Index


Trumpet & Bowl Judgments

The Trumpet judgments are not events in chronological sequence — rather they are general themes concerning God's judgment.

The Trumpet judgments are judgments of thirds, which refer to God's warning the people so that they will repent. If they don't repent, then God will judge them completely with the bowl judgments. A passage using the imagery of thirds:

In the context of judgment on the enemies of Jerusalem (Zechariah chapter 13), 2/3 are struck down and perish, but 1/3 are brought into the fire, refined and tested — then they will call on God's name. This indicates a partial judgment in which the wicked are judged, but the righteous are refined.

"Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!" declares the LORD Almighty. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it." (Zechariah 13:7-8)

The Trumpet and the Bowl judgments are parallel — that is to say, each one has similar images. To highlight this I analyze both sets of judgments together in this article.

Many of the images in the Trumpet and Bowl judgments come from the plagues against Egypt during the time of Moses. In these judgments against Egypt we see a pattern in which God:

The warning and the destruction were really one and the same thing. If Pharaoh had not hardened his heart, the judgments would have been avoided. This is the significance of the Trumpet judgments.

References to these plagues on Egypt:

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Trumpet 1

Verse 7 (Chapter 8) — The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

Bowl 1

Verse 2 (Chapter 16) — The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.

That God will judge the land (and the people in it).

God sends a warning by destroying the land and crops (as in the plagues in Exodus). If the people won't repent, then God will judge them personally (as indicated by the boils). The principle is that God will send more and more severe warnings to persuade people to repent from their sin. The final conclusion of this process is that people who refuse to repent will end up judged in hell.

In the First Trumpet judgment we have images from the Old Testament referring to God's judgment. In the following passage from Joel, the context is the church age which brings salvation followed by final judgment for those who rejected God.

I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. (Joel 2:30)

The following passage shows the images of fire (lightning) and hail representing God's judgment.

The LORD will cause men to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail. (Isaiah 30:30)

In the seventh plague on Egypt we have a judgment on the land, the people, and the animals using the same images as in the first Trumpet judgment. So the first Trumpet represents God redeeming His people, which is now the Church.

When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the LORD sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt; hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields — both men and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. (Exodus 9:23-25)

In the First Bowl judgment we have a reference to the sixth plague of Egypt in which God judged the Egyptians who would not let His people go. So the first Bowl represents God redeeming His people, which is now the Church.

It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on men and animals throughout the land. (Exodus 9:9)

One of the curses on the nation of Israel for disobedience was boils, so the first Bowl judgment concerns judgment for disobedience.

The LORD will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. (Deuteronomy 28:27)

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Trumpet 2

Verse 8 & 9 (Chapter 8) — The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

Bowl 2

Verse 3 (Chapter 16) — The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.

That God will judge the sea (and the people on it).

The image of the sea turning into blood is from the miracles of Moses during the Exodus.

The image of the burning mountain refers to Mt. Sinai at the giving of the law (Exodus 19:16-22).

The image of the mountain thrown into the sea was used by Jesus in the context of His cursing the fig tree which didn't produce figs (even though it wasn't the season for figs).

Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done." (Matthew 21:21)

The point of this illustration was to demonstrate to the disciples that they would be given authority by God to command even the physical realm, and that God would honor their requests. They never had occasion to command a mountain to throw itself into the sea, but they did many amazing miracles. God used these miracles to validate their apostolic authority and to confirm the truth of the gospel message.

In the 2nd Trumpet, God warns people to honor his law (given at Mt. Sinai) and to honor the gospel of the apostles (whose message was validated by the miracles they did). If people won't obey and repent, then God will judge them with the 2nd bowl judgment, which speaks of death and the removal of life giving blessing.

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Trumpet 3

Verses 10 & 11 (Chapter 8) — The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.

Bowl 3

Verse 4 (Chapter 16) — The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.

That God will judge the drinking water (and the people who depend on it).

The image of the rivers turning into blood is from the miracles of Moses during the Exodus.

In the 3rd Trumpet judgment the waters become bitter, but in the 3rd Bowl judgment they become blood, signifying death.

The image of the great star is a continuation of the image of the hail and fire (1st trumpet), which becomes a fiery mountain (2nd trumpet), and then becomes a fiery star (3rd trumpet). These images refer to the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. If people will not respond to God's law and repent, then He will judge them.

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Trumpet 4

Verse 12 (Chapter 8) — The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.

Bowl 4

Verses 8 & 9 (Chapter 16) — The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.

An image of the scorching sun from Jonah:

When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live." (Jonah 4:8)

Another image from the words of Christ:

But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. (Matthew 13:6)

There are other passages in Psalm 68:6 and Isaiah 58:11 with these images.

That God will judge the heavenly bodies (and the people who depend on them — specifically the sun). This refers to the plague of darkness (Exodus 10:21-29). In the 4th Trumpet judgment, God is warning about the destruction of the world by fire that precedes the final judgment. In the 4th Bowl judgment, we see a preview of God's judgment on them, and they are cast into the fire of hell. Notice that they no longer have the ability to repent.

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Chapter 9


Woe 1 — Trumpet 5

Verses 2-4 (Chapter 9) — When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

Bowl 5

Verses 10 & 11 (Chapter 16) — The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

Throne of the beast — Rome.

In the three woes (trumpets 5 — 7), God is judging the larger spiritual realms and the people who worship the forces of darkness.

The 3 woes:

Woe 1 — Satan rules in the hearts of men.

Woe 2 — Satan rules the worldly kingdoms.

Woe 3 — God's final judgment.

In the 5th Trumpet judgment, we see that God will judge those who will not worship Him by allowing Satan to destroy them, and we get a preview of what it is like (in this life and in hell) without God's blessings.

In the 5th Trumpet judgment we see the demonic oppression of those who don't belong to God. In the 5th Bowl judgment, we get a preview of their judgment and suffering in hell.

The smoke that rises from the Abyss reminds us of the smoke that fills the tent of meeting in the presence of God, but here it refers to the presence of Satan. The locusts remind us of plagues of locusts which destroy the land often as a judgment from God for disobedience (see Exodus 10:1-20). Here the locusts are not physical, but spiritual and they destroy the souls of men. The boils refer to the boils on the Egyptians in the time of the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 9:8-12).

Note that the fifth Trumpet judgment in not on the people who are sealed by God, the believers.

In the following passage about Satan, the word "pit" refers to the "Abyss."

How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)

An application of the 5th Bowl judgment is the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D.

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Woe 2 — Trumpet 6

Verses 14-16 (Chapter 9) — It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.

Bowl 6

Verse 12 & 16 (Chapter 16) — The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

In Isaiah 11:15-16 there is a similar passage in which the Euphrates River is dried up so the remnant can return from captivity in Assyria. This event is similar to the crossing of the Red Sea which speaks of God's miraculous intervention.

The LORD will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that men can cross over in sandals. There will be a highway for the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt. (Isaiah 11:15-16)

But in Revelation Chapter 9 the idea is that it will be troops who cross the Euphrates, and they will kill unbelievers. In Revelation 16 the river is dried up for the kings from the east — but these kings have been deceived by spirits of demons (who are associated with the Unholy Trinity, (1) Dragon, (2) Beast, (3) False Prophet). The Parthians are beyond the Euphrates River.

Some background from an event in the Old Testament will be helpful.

While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Neco faced him and killed him at Megiddo. (2 Kings 23:29)

In the parallel account in 2 Chr 35:20-22 we learn that Josiah attacked Pharaoh Neco in disobedience to God. The idea is that those who oppose God (by attacking the Egyptians in disobedience to God) will be killed at Megiddo (Armageddon).

There is a contrast between:

(1) The redeemed remnant from Assyria (representing all believers) who are saved by God when He dries up the Euphrates River (Isaiah 11:15-16), and

(2) The unsaved who are destroyed in judgment by God when the demonic powers of darkness persuade them to disobey God.

Another passage regarding the Euphrates River:

In that day the LORD will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, O Israelites, will be gathered up one by one. And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:12-13)

That God will judge (destroy by death) those who disobey Him. The Euphrates River formed a protective barrier for the kingdom of Assyria, protecting it from its enemies. The symbolism of the Euphrates drying up is that people's enemies can harm them once the river dries up. This happened historically in the case of Babylon, which is on the Euphrates River. The Persians captured the city by damming the river and sneaking under the walls. In the same way, by drying up the water, the kingdom of Satan can rule the world, is symbolized by Babylon as the worldly kingdom of Satan.

The kings of the East also refer to the barbarians who conquered Rome, as well as and to the Islamic invasion.

The River Euphrates refers to Babylon since the river goes through Babylon.

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Woe 3 — Trumpet 7

Verse 19 (Chapter 11) — Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

Bowl 7

Verses 17 & 18 (Chapter 16) — The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, "It is done!" Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake.

The second coming, the destruction of the world, final judgment. The images are from Exodus 9:13-35 and refer to final judgment. The Ark of the Covenant represents God's presence.

In the 7th bowl judgment God's wrath is completed.

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Chapter 9


Verses 1-11 (Chapter 9) — Images: Shaft of the Abyss, locusts, don't harm those who have the seal of God (the 144,000), agony, king is Abaddon.

That God will judge those who will not worship Him, but that He will allow Satan to destroy them. A preview of what it is like (in this life and in hell) without God's blessings.

The locusts refer to demonic oppression which rules during the early church centuries and the entire church age, resulting in the persecution and martyrdom of believers.

Note that the fifth Trumpet judgment is not on the people who are sealed by God, the believers.

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Verses 13-21 (Chapter 9) — Images: River Euphrates, kill 1/3 of mankind, plagues, didn't stop worshipping demons and didn't stop murder, magic arts, sexual immorality, thefts.

The 2nd Woe — 6th Trumpet judgment

That God will judge (destroy by death) those who disobey Him.

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Chapter 10

Still within the context of the 2nd woe — Trumpet 6

That God will judge (destroy by death) those who disobey Him.

Start of Chapter 10 | Glossary | Index


Verse 6 (Chapter 10) — There will be no more delay!

The 7th Trumpet is the end of the world and final judgment.

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Verse 7 (Chapter 10) — But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.

The 7th Trumpet is the second coming, the destruction of the world, final judgment.

The word "days" refers to the church age and this passage concerns the time immediately before the second coming.

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Verse 9 (Chapter 10) — So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, "Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey."

This passage is from Ezekiel in which the prophet is given the task of speaking the word of the Lord to His people who would reject it.

Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. . . . But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate." (Ezekiel 3:3,4,7)

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Chapter 11

Still within the context of the 2nd Woe — 6th Trumpet judgment.

That God will judge (destroy by death) those who disobey Him.


Verses 1 & 2 (Chapter 11) — I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months."

Note the similarities to Ezekiel chapters 40-48.

Not measured — Left unprotected.

Temple — The Church as the remnant of true believers — The woman of 12:6.

Outer court — The Church in its physical form as Christendom. Not all are redeemed. The wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30).

Gentiles — Unbelievers who trample (persecute) the church for the church age.

At the time the book of Revelation was written the temple in Jerusalem had already been destroyed. Yet there is still a temple of God — the church.

For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." (2 Corinthians 6:16)

When the Israelites were in their 70 year captivity there was no temple, but there was the hope of one in the future, after the captivity was over. At the time of the writing of the book of Revelation there was no temple, nor was there a need for one because the Church is the temple.

There are two ways in which the 42 months (3–1/2 years) is significant:

  1. This was the approximate duration of the Jewish War (lasting four years) leading to the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. The Romans (Gentiles) trampled on the holy city (Jerusalem) during this time.
  2. The 42 months refers to the Church Age. The Gentiles (for example, the Romans, Palestinians, Moslems, etc.) have trampled and will continue to trample on Jerusalem for the entire Church Age until the second coming of Christ.

These verses speak of God's judgment on unbelievers of all ages for their disobedience. The unbelieving nation of Israel was judged of God by the Gentile Romans who trampled the city of Jerusalem before destroying it in 70 A.D. Just as God even judged His own people who rejected Him, so He will also judge all unbelievers.

The outer court of the temple represents unbelievers of all ages (God's holiness is trampled on) and the inner court represents believers of all ages (who worship at the altar).

The holy city is Jerusalem which refers to the church.

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Verses 3-5 (Chapter 11) — And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. . . .

The two witnesses already occurred during the Jewish War or 66–70 A.D.

The two witnesses are based on a composite of images from the Old Testament:

The common elements of all these images are that they all concern prophets sent to redeem God's people, either from: (1) God's judgment of their sin (by warning them to repent), or (2) oppression from their enemies and persecution.

This passage is still part of the 6th Trumpet judgment, which is the 2nd Woe. The 7th Trumpet judgment — the destruction of the world and final judgment, which is the third and final woe — follows shortly.

Notice that this passage is modeled on the ministry of Christ. He first warns the people and teaches them for 3–1/2 years; then He is killed by those who have rejected His message; He is scorned and laughed at by the people; then He is raised from the dead and ascended to heaven.

Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and His covenant is a fulfillment of the Old Covenant. The reference to Moses and Elijah is a reference to the law and the prophets, which represents the Old Covenant. Christ is acting in the role of prophet (represented by Elijah), and the role of redeemer/deliverer (represented by Moses). Those who reject Christ will be judged.

3–1/2 years

1,260 days = 3–1/2 years (360 days per year). Three uses:

2 olive trees

A related passage that explains the two witnesses (the 2 olive trees and the 2 lampstands):

Again I asked him, "What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?" So he said, "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth." (Zechariah 4:12,14)

In the context of the passage in Zechariah, we see that these two are:

(1) Zerubbabel (God's anointed king), and

(2) Joshua (God's high priest).

The two olive trees represent the role of true kingship and true priesthood. Of course, only Christ fulfills these images.

A related passage that explains the two olive trees:

"Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left." So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty." (Zechariah 4:3,6)

The two olive trees represent the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

The 2 witnesses already occurred in the Jewish War of 66–70 A.D.

Fire from their mouths

A few additional passages concerning the two witnesses:

Elijah answered the captain, "If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!" Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men. (2 Kings 1:10)

When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" (Luke 9:54)

Explanation

This passage is not a prophecy of the future as premillennialists claim, but an interpretation of the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. In the passage, the 2 witnesses prophesied for about 3 1/3 years (four years) while the Jewish War was going on, and they were invincible during this time (just as Elijah was invincible and called fire down from heaven on those who tried to harm him).

But God destroyed Israel for their disobedience to Him and established the New Covenant, the church, to replace it. During the approximately 3–1/2 years while God was destroying Jerusalem, the church (the 2 witnesses) was busy preaching the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of this was to confirm that He was now working through the church.

The two witnesses already occurred during the Jewish War of 66–70 A.D.

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Verse 5 (Chapter 11) — If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die.

Images concerning Elijah showing that the church has power in the Holy Spirit.

When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" (Luke 9:54)

Elijah answered the captain, "If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!" Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men. (2 Kings 1:10)

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Verse 6 (Chapter 11) — These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.

These are images from Elijah's and Moses' miracles demonstrating that the church is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." (1 Kings 17:1)

Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. (Exodus 7:20)

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Verses 7-9 (Chapter 11) — Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial.

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Verses 11 & 12 (Chapter 11) — But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.

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Verse 13 (Chapter 11) — At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

At the end of the Church Age there is the destruction of the world and the judgment of the wicked. The very next event is the 7th Trumpet judgment — the destruction of the world and final judgment.

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The 3rd Woe — 7th Trumpet

The second coming, the destruction of the world, final judgment.

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Chapter 12

The dragon — the 1st person of the "Unholy Trinity."


Verses 1 & 2 (Chapter 12) — A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.

The images are from Joseph's dream:

Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" (Genesis 37:9-10)

Israel gives birth to the Messiah. Note that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is also referred to since she is the one who gave birth to Jesus. By way of application she represents the Church. Some might object to considering Mary as "the woman" in these verses, but the first readers of the book of Revelation would have certainly thought of Mary when reading this passage.

The Woman — Israel and the Church.

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Verses 3 & 4 (Chapter 12) — Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.

The child — the Church.

The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan. . . . (Revelation 12:9)

Dragon — Satan attempted to kill Jesus at birth.

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. (Matthew 2:16)

Satan's rebellion in heaven resulted in 1/3 of the angels following him. Since then their unholy activities have been directed upon the earth, and especially upon humans.

The dragon has 7 heads, 10 horns and 7 crowns — a crown for each head. The Beast of 13:1 has 7 heads, 10 horns and 10 crowns — a crown for each horn. From 17:9-10 we see that the 7 heads represent 7 hills and 7 kings. Five of these kings have fallen, one is, and one has not yet come. From 17:12 we see that the 10 horns represent 10 kings of the future (from the time the book was written).

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Verses 5 & 6 (Chapter 12) — She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

The word "son" refers to Jesus.

Snatched up to God — the ascension of Christ.

The image of ruling with an iron scepter relates to judgment of the wicked (and not to the maintenance of a kingdom as premillennialists claim).

You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery. (Psalms 2:9)

"He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery" — just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:27)

Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:15)

Snatched up = resurrection (not rapture).

Taken care of — Refers to the manna in the desert.

The image of "fleeing to the desert" for safety reminds us of the Israelites in Sinai during the Exodus. And since the Church = Israel, this reminds us that God will protect the Church through all persecution.

The woman fled to the desert. During the approximate 3–1/2 years of the Jewish War which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the true believers were protected by heeding the words of Christ in Matthew 24:15-20 and fleeing Jerusalem. The young church managed to keep itself out of the rebellion against the Romans. Since the early church was considered to be merely a sect of Judaism it required supernatural intervention to ensure that the Romans didn't destroy it. But the Jewish War is a sign that God is finished with His chosen nation of Israel and is now operating through the church — this is the significance of the approximate 3–1/2 year Jewish War. What a shocking thing it must have been for those who lived through the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple as they realized that the church really is the New Covenant.

The image of 3–1/2 years also refers to the Church Age. God will protect the Church from the attacks of Satan during the entire Church Age because Satan is "bound" for the duration of the Church Age.

More info.

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Verse 7 (Chapter 12) — And there was war in heaven. . . .

Verse 9 (Chapter 12) — The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

This corresponds to the victory of Christ on the cross and His resurrection.

He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (Revelation 20:2)

Satan no longer has power over believers for the entire church age. He can't accuse the believers (like he could in the book of Job.)

Note that Satan lost the war in heaven and as a result was hurled down to the earth.

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Verses 13-17 (Chapter 12) — When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring — those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Satan pursued the woman — this refers to the persecution against Jews and the nation of Israel throughout history. One way Satan did this was by stirring up the Jewish revolutionaries whose activities against the Romans resulted in the Jewish War of 66-70 A.D. The woman also refers to the Church, and Satan has been trying to destroy the Church and believers, and will continue to do so during the entire Church Age.

Time, times and half a time — See verse 6 for comments on the 3–1/2 years. The 3–1/2 years also refers to the persecution of Christians by Domitian, which lasted 3–1/2 years until his death.

The desert — Christ saves and protects the Church. Throughout the Old Testament people would flee to the desert for safety. For example, King David did this.

The rest of her offspring — This refers to:

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Chapter 13

Verses 1-10 — The first Beast, 2nd person of the Unholy Trinity.

Verses 11-18 — The False Prophet, 3rd person of the Unholy Trinity.

The Unholy Trinity


Verse 1-2 (Chapter 13) — And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.

Blasphemous name — emperor worship.

The Beast is a composite of 3 world empires. Specifically it represents the Roman Empire of their day, and generally it represents the idea of political rulership by ungodly rulers.

The first three beasts are from Daniel chapter 7 but are in reverse order.

The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. . . . And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. . . . After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. . . . (Daniel 7:4-6)

The sea represents all the peoples of the world, signifying that Satan, who empowers the Beast, operates through people.

The seven heads refer to the 7 hills of Rome and to 7 kings who are 7 Roman Emperors (17:9).

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Verse 3 & 4 (Chapter 13) — One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast. . . .

Nero is the fifth head of the Beast and the head that had a fatal wound. Based on the Nero Redivivus Myth, Domitian is the "incarnation" of Nero. Domitian came after Titus, who was the seventh head (See 17:10 for more info).

Mortal wound healed — Nero's suicide in 68 A.D., followed by a year of civil war which threatened the existence of the empire. With Vespasian, the Beast came to life again.

They worshipped Satan (the dragon) and the Beast because they participated in the emperor worship that Nero and Domitian demanded. Later Roman emperors also demanded to be worshipped.

The Nero Redivivus Myth

At the time John wrote the book of Revelation the Nero Redivivus myth was widely known. An early version of this myth appears in Book V of the Sibylline Oracles, which was written about 80 A.D. This is before the time that the book of Revelation was written. A later version of the Nero Redivivus myth declared that Nero had in fact died but that he would be resurrected (but certainly John did not believe that Nero would be resurrected). In the Nero Redivivus myth it is claimed that in the near future Nero would return to Rome with an army of Parthians to conquer Rome and take possession of the Empire. The Parthians were the only mounted archers in the first century and they lived beyond the Euphrates River.

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Verse 5 & 7 (Chapter 13) — The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. . . . He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.

Just as Domitian considered himself to be deity, all ungodly world rulers in some sense consider their own power to originate from their own innate abilities (rather than given by God).

The 42 months is the approximate duration of the Jewish War (lasting four years), in which Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. It is also the duration of the persecution of Christians by Domitian. The Beast represents the rulership of Rome and the images in the next few verses are a potpourri of indictments against the Romans, and by application all political governments for the duration of the church age (represented by the time period of 3–1/2 years).

According to Josephus, Nero is the Roman Emperor who declared war on the Jews. This declaration of war against God's chosen nation was one of his many blasphemies.

The phrase "conquer the saints" refers to the persecution of believers during the Church Age.

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Verse 10 (Chapter 13) — If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.

The images of captivity and of being killed refer to the persecution of believers. We must remember that one of the purposes for the book of Revelation is to encourage those believers who were being persecuted and martyred to endure even unto death if necessary.

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Verse 11 (Chapter 13) — Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon.

This beast is the False Prophet. 16:13, 19:20 & 20:10.

The False Prophet represents the false religious systems of the world with a particular application for the first readers of the book of Revelation to Roman emperor worship.

The False Prophet pretends to have a redemptive role just a Christ (the lamb) did, but in reality he speaks the lies of Satan.

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Verse 13 (Chapter 13) — And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men.

Just as Elijah did. But this beast is not from God.

During the siege of Jerusalem there certainly was fire coming down from heaven (the sky) in the form of burning missiles launched from catapults.

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Verse 14 (Chapter 13) — Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.

This beast (the False Prophet) represents the cult of emperor worship, and by application all worship of leaders. The significance of the image is that it is something tangible that can be used as a point of worship.

King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:1)

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Verses 16-18 (Chapter 13) — He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.

Just as God marks people to single them out so do political rulers. The false seal of unbelievers is in contrast to the true seal of believers (the 144,000) The forehead represents man's thinking and the right hand represents human effort and ability.

And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand. (Exodus 13:16)

But the LORD said to him, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. (Genesis 4:15)

Can't buy or sell — Economic pressure: (1) Artisans were pressured to join pagan guilds, and (2) The image of Caesar on coins — Christians had to avoid using them once the Emperors proclaimed themselves deity.

Not being able to buy or sell are examples of persecution. Christians would be singled out and treated badly.

666 = Nero, representing all rulers who persecute Christians. He was the first Roman Emperor to proclaim emperor worship and to persecute Christians. In some Bibles the number is given as 616 which spells "Nero" in Hebrew.

666 is the Greek transliteration for "Nero Caesar" when transliterated into Hebrew.

616, which is a variant reading in some texts, is the Latin transliteration for "Nero Caesar" when transliterated into Hebrew.

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Chapter 14


Verse 1 (Chapter 14) — Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.

Mt. Zion refers to heaven.

The 144,000 are marked by God rather than marked by the Beast (and the False Prophet).

They are the redeemed, either (1) having died and now present with the Lord, or (2) in the eternal state.

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Verse 6 (Chapter 14) — Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation, tribe, language and people.

An angel proclaiming the gospel? God can save without our involvement. But this is not to say that we should sit back and do nothing.

The angel proclaims the following facts that all people are accountable to know:

A passage from Romans confirms these points:

What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:19-21)

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Verse 8 (Chapter 14) — A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries."

We know that "Babylon the Great" represents the Roman Empire (Revelation 17:9). (More info). Therefore, the Romans who persecuted Christians with the cult of emperor worship will be judged and destroyed. And by application this verse applies to the world political system which does not honor God.

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Verses 9-11 (Chapter 14) — A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."

All unbelievers will be judged.

The phrase "cup of his wrath" is the 7 Bowl judgments. The "burning sulfur" refers to the Lake of Fire.

These verses contain an image of life in hell for the wicked. It is significant that both the angels and Christ (but not humans) will eternally witness their punishment, as the smoke of their torment is offered as an offering (just as the incense of the martyrs is offered and received as an offering to God). My view of what hell is.

No rest day or night — Unbelievers who are judged. Just as the saints worship God "day and night" the damned get no rest day or night.

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Verse 13 (Chapter 14) — Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."

An encouragement to those who are being persecuted and martyred. The martyrs are blessed.

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Verses 14-20 (Chapter 14) — I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe." The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.

1st image (harvest of grain crop) — gathering of the elect; Christ to reap the elect (Mark 13:26-27)

2nd image (vintage & harvest of grapes) — blood shed by martyrs, or judgment

The image of those outside the city represents those who are not redeemed. A passage to illustrate:

The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. (Hebrews 13:11-12)

1,600 stadia is about 180 miles. This is an enormous amount of blood that people have to shed for their own sins, and it is all for nothing. Only Christ's sacrifice redeems us from sin.

The judgment of the wicked is likened to a harvest.

Blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia — This is an outrageous image, intended to demonstrate that God's judgment is to be feared. I heard a story recently about a festival in Nepal with animal sacrifices in which the blood from the animals was two inches deep. Certainly any culture that practices animal sacrifices will understand the image of blood flowing.

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Chapter 15


Verse 2 (Chapter 15) — And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea. . . .

The sea represents God's holiness and here it is mixed with the fire of judgment (which is the Lake of Fire).

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Chapter 16


See Revelation 8:7 for commentary on the Bowl judgments.

The trumpet judgments are in response to the prayers of the martyred and persecuted believers who wish to avenge. These judgments are only a third. They are warnings — if not heeded, the bowl judgments will occur.

The bowl judgments are God's response to wickedness from His holiness.

Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. . . . (Revelation 15:4)

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Verse 19 (Chapter 16) — The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.

The great city is Rome.

This verse is in the context of the destruction of the world and final judgment. The image includes a reference to the cities of refuge in Old Testament Israel and represents the idea that believers have refuge in heaven.

Then set aside for yourselves three cities centrally located in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess. Build roads to them and divide into three parts the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, so that anyone who kills a man may flee there. (Deuteronomy 19:2-3)

This verse states that the whole world will be judged — none can escape from God's righteous wrath.

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Verses 20 & 21 (Chapter 16) — Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

This is the destruction of the world in preparation for the white throne judgment and in conjunction with the second coming of Christ.

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Chapter 17


Verses 1 & 2 (Chapter 17) — One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries."

The woman on red beast — The goddess Roma who was sustained by the empire.

Chapter 17 concerns the Roman Empire (the woman). The woman represents the "soul" of the Roman Empire while the Beast represents the political and economic realities. The woman's characteristics:

We know that "Babylon the Great" is the Roman Empire from Revelation 17:9 (the 7 hills). More info.

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Verse 3 (Chapter 17) — Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.

Blasphemous name — Emperor worship.

Purple & scarlet (in verse 4) — The imperial colors representing finery, and extravagant wealth.

This is the same woman as the great prostitute in Revelation 17:2.

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Verses 8 & 9 (Chapter 17) — The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. . . . "This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits."

An obvious reference to the city of Rome, the city of 7 hills. I consider this a key verse in the interpretation of the book of Revelation. Because this reference is so obvious it should be used as a cornerstone. Other less clear images should be based on this one.

The Beast is the Roman Empire which is energized and empowered by Satan. In 20:2 and 12:9 we see that Satan has been defeated by Christ at the cross and has been thrown out of heaven so that he can no longer accuse the saints. In this context we can understand the image of "once was, now is not, will come":

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Verse 10 (Chapter 17) — They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while.

The 7th king remains only a short time.

The 7 kings are 7 Roman emperors. This is clear from the context, in which Rome is clearly identified (the 7 hills).

The 7 heads are 7 hills (Rome, v 9) and 7 kings (v 10).


The Roman Emperors


The first 14 Emperors in sequence:

  1. Augustus (Octavian) (27 B.C. — 14 A.D.)

    The Julio-Claudian dynasty:

  2. Tiberius (14-37)
  3. Gaius (Caligula) (37-41) — First Roman Emperor to demand worship.
  4. Claudius (41-54)
  5. Nero (54-68) — The Jewish War begins. Persecution of Christians in Rome from 64-68 A.D.

    The 3 emperors during the time of civil war and the near collapse of the Roman Empire. They had very short reigns:

  6. Galba (68)
  7. Otho (68)
  8. Vitellius (69)

    Flavian dynasty:

  9. Vespasian (69-79) — Jerusalem and the temple destroyed (the Jewish War ends).
  10. Titus (79-81)
  11. Domitian (81-96) — The book of Revelation was written about 95 A.D. Persecution of Christians in the province of Asia.
  12. Nerva (96-98)
  13. Trajan (98-117) — Persecuted Christians.
  14. Hadrian (117-138) — Persecuted Christians. Final destruction of Jerusalem in 135 A.D.

Some notable additional Roman Emperors (after Hadrian):

The Jews rebelled against Rome several times after the time of the apostles. These are the seven kings in which the Jews rebelled (this is not the primary meaning of those verses, but it is an interesting coincidence that there are 7 kings under which the Jews rebelled):

Possibilities for the 7 kings and the 8th king. I prefer the first option:

5 have fallen 1 is 1 will come and will remain for a little while (a short reign?)

The 8th king is the beast (the Roman Empire) who:
(1) once was,
(2) now is not, and
(3) will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction.

Not necessarily after the 7th king.

In verse 11 seems to refer to Domitian.

 
Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus (Emperors "after" Nero). Domitian A future "Nero." Nero and Domitian (as the "incarnation" of Nero because he persecuted Christians just as Nero did).

In the Nero Redivivus myth, Nero:
(1) once was (when he reigned),
(2) now is not (because Domitian is the emperor), and
(3) will come from the Abyss (when he comes again with the Parthians to conquer Rome).
From the perspective of the Nero Redivivus myth.

Nero, the 8th king, is "before" the 7 kings.

Domitian, the 8th king, still is and his spirit (the spirit of persecution) continued into the future.
Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, Nero (first 5 emperors).

They have fallen because the Julio-Claudian Dynasty of which they were a part collapsed after Nero.
Vespasian (Emperor during fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.)

The phrase "one is" applies to him because the Flavian Dynasty (of which he was a part) still existed at the time the book of Revelation was written.
Titus Domitian From the perspective of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Problems:
(1) Skips 3 Emperors with short reigns (not a severe problem),
(2) No reason to choose 70 A.D. as the current date since the book of Revelation was written in 95 A.D.
Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian (Emperors during the Jewish War) Domitian (persecuting Christians) Hadrian?? (Emperor who destroyed Jerusalem in 135 A.D.) ??? Emphasizes persecution.

Problems:
(1) Gaps,
(2) No discrimination of the object of persecution — Jews or Christians,
(3) Can't discern 8th king,
(4) No reason to select anyone in particular as 7th king.

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Verse 11 (Chapter 17) — The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.

This brings us to Domitian who is the "8th king" and was the emperor at the time the book of Revelation was written. In Revelation 13:3 he is healed, but in Revelation 17:11 he "now is not."

One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. (Revelation 13:3)

The idea of the "fatal wound that was healed" refers to the Nero Redivivus Myth in which Nero who "once was" is "incarnated" in Domitian (the fatal wound is healed).

But in Revelation 17:11 Domitian "now is not." This is explained in a similar manner as in the previous verse. From the perspective of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (the "NOW"), Domitian "is not."

The Beast is the Roman Empire which is energized and empowered by Satan. In 20:2 and 12:9 we see that Satan has been defeated by Christ at the cross and has been thrown out of heaven so that he can no longer accuse the saints. In this context we can understand the image of "once was, now is not, will come":

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Verse 12 (Chapter 17) — "The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast."

The "10 kings" are future (from the writing of the book of Revelation) Roman Emperors after Domitian who will continue to persecute Christians. Some of the worst:

Some others who persecuted Christians:

The book of Revelation is primarily a prophecy concerning the persecution of the Church from the time of Domitian until Constantine. There would be at least 10 kings who would persecute the Church and history bears this out. In verse 14 it mentions that the 10 kings and the Beast would make war against the Lamb. They will do this by persecuting the Church.

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Verses 16 & 18 (Chapter 17) — The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.

The kingdom of darkness is not united. Evil people do evil deeds against good people as well as against other evil people.

The Roman Emperors who begin to think of themselves as god hate the system of Roman law which limits their power.

The Great City — Rome.

The Romans who persecuted Christians because of the cult of emperor worship will be judged and destroyed. But this verse also applies to God's righteous judgment against all that is ungodly.

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Chapter 18


Verse 2 (Chapter 18) — With a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! . . ."

The entire world system with all its corruption will be judged. Nothing is exempt.

Start of Chapter 18 | Glossary | Index


Chapter 19


Verse 9 (Chapter 19) — Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" . . .

The wedding is between Christ and the redeemed. In the context it occurs before the second coming (19:11-20) and refers to the kingdom, which includes all of the redeemed.

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Verse 11 (Chapter 19) — I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.

Verses 11-21 concerns the second coming of Christ.

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Verse 14 (Chapter 19) — The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.

Armies of heaven are either (1) angels, (2) deceased believers (the redeemed), or (3) both.

It is my opinion that the premillennial interpretation of this verse is incorrect. In that view the "armies of heaven" are resurrected (raptured) believers who come with Christ and "assist" him. But the passage makes no mention of them doing anything other than following Him.

Fine linen — The righteous deeds and the holy lives of God's people.

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Verse 15 (Chapter 19) — Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.

Rule with an iron scepter — judgment. He strikes down the nations in the fury of the wrath of God.

The image of ruling with an iron scepter relates to the judgment of the wicked (and not to the maintenance of a kingdom).

You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery. (Psalms 2:9)

'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery' — just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:27)

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Verse 19 (Chapter 19) — Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.

Christ is just in judging them because they are opposed to him.

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Chapter 20


Verse 1 (Chapter 20) — And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.

When the Bible uses words such as Abyss that refer to the spiritual realm there is imprecision in their meaning. The word "deep" in Romans 10:7 is the same word as Abyss.

Who will descend into the deep? (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). (Romans 10:7)

Therefore, we must be careful not to read too much into these matters which are left so indistinct in the Bible. It is sufficient to say that (1) the Abyss is not heaven, and (2) it represents a place that is undesirable for the fallen demonic spirit beings.

And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. (Luke 8:31)

Because of Christ's victory on the cross over Satan and death, Satan's powers are curtailed during the remainder of the church age until Christ's second coming.

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Verse 2 (Chapter 20) — He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

The amillennial view is that the 1,000 yearsrefers to the church age in which Satan is bound.

His "binding" refers to:

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Verse 3 (Chapter 20) — He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

Satan can no longer deceive the nations. But in what sense is Satan's deceptive powers limited? Matthew 24:4-5 gives us a hint.

Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, ' and will deceive many." (Matthew 24:4-5)

After the 1,000 years Satan will be set free for a short time and will again deceive the nations. Premillennialists claim that the "short time" is the end of the 1,000 yearmillennium in which Satan incites the whole world to start a war against Christ who rules from Jerusalem. Amillennialists have several viewpoints on this. Some believe there will be a "great tribulation" at the end of the age which will be a time of apostasy and great persecution against the church — a time of trial. I reject this view — (read why).

The "short time" refers to time period after 1054 A.D. until the 2nd coming of Christ.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 676

Examples are Socialism, Communism, and other utopian visions.

The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 675

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Verse 4 (Chapter 20) — I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Martyrs, who come to life in the first resurrection to rule and reign with Christ for 1,000 years (the Church Age).

Binding of Satan — He is cast out of heaven and can no longer deceive or accuse the saints.

Notice the emphasis on the persecuted and martyred believers. This is a major theme in the book of Revelation. It is important to John to encourage the early church which had begun to be persecuted by the Romans. Over the next several centuries this persecution would get worse and worse.

In the church age we Christians are ruling and reigning with Christ — it is one of the benefits that Christ acquired through His victory on the cross. We judge while alive in this world, and after death we judge from the "thrones" we are given to sit on in heaven in the Lord's presence. Deceased believers are active in the spiritual battle against the powers of darkness during the Church age.

The mark of the beast is a figurative way of demonstrating whether a person has given their allegiance to Christ or to Satan (by rejecting God and Christ).

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Verse 5 (Chapter 20) — (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.

At the end of the 1,000 years there is:

There are two resurrections — one spiritual and one physical. The first resurrection is the death of a believer in which he or she is received into the presence of the Lord to rule and reign with Christ. This is based on Christ's bodily resurrection as the "firstfruits."

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20)

The second resurrection is a bodily resurrection of the same type as Christ's resurrection, which occurs at the second coming of Christ and the destruction of the world by fire.

Note that in the previous verse, verse 4, it is the deceased believers who come to life (the 1st resurrection) to rule and reign with Christ in heaven (where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father). But the "rest of the dead," the unbelievers, do not enjoy the benefits of this "spiritual" resurrection — instead, they die twice.

The first death for an unbeliever is physical death and the second death is final judgment followed by eternity in the lake of fire.

The rest of the dead — Those who await general resurrection.

The first and second resurrection and the first and second death:

First. . .

Occurs at Physical death.

Concerns the time between death and the second coming.

Second. . .

Occurs at the second coming.

Concerns a person's eternal condition after the second coming.

. . . Resurrection

For believers

Present with the Lord during the Church Age.

Martyrs reign with Christ (20:11).

Eternity in heaven.

. . . Death

For unbelievers

Judgment.

Great White Throne judgment.

Eternity in Lake of Fire.

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Verse 6 (Chapter 20) — Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

John is encouraging the persecuted church to endure even until death because it is a blessing to be martyred. But that does not mean that believers should seek after martyrdom as some have done throughout church history. We should be willing to die for Christ if it comes to that.

Note that deceased believers have a priestly role in heaven. They can intercede for people on earth.

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Verse 7 and 8 (Chapter 20) — When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth — Gog and Magog — to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.

Premillennialists interpret this passage as a great war. Some say it will take place at the end of the 1,000 yearmillennium, others that it will occur before the millennium.

In the amillennial view, the 1,000 yearsrepresents the Church Age so this passage refers to the end of the Church Age. Immediately before the second coming of Christ, there will be a time of trial for believers (read more).

The passage from Ezekiel:

Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him. (Ezekiel 38:2)

More info about Ezekiel Chapter 38.

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Verse 9 (Chapter 20) — They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

Camp of the holy ones and the beloved city — the Church.

Immediately before the second coming of Christ, there will be a time of trial for believers (read more).

Two other passages that are relevant:

Elijah answered the captain, "If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!" Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men. (2 Kings 1:10)

Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire — he is God. (1 Kings 18:24)

I interpret this verse figuratively to mean — the enemies of God attack God, but they are destroyed. Satan incites these God-haters to do this.

This destruction by fire is the destruction of the world at the second coming of Christ.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10)

God will judge at His second coming.

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Verse 10 (Chapter 20) — And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever...

Satan is judged just as all other God-haters are judged.

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Verse 11 (Chapter 20) — Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.

The Great White Throne judgment which occurs immediately after the destruction of the earth.

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Verse 13 (Chapter 20) — The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

Notice that the sea as well as Hades have dead souls living in them, but this shouldn't be taken literally. The Bible is very imprecise about conditions in the spirit world and the after world. The intent of this verse is merely to state that all people who have died are judged — no one can escape from the final judgment.

The idea is that people who died at sea and were not given a proper burial are, therefore, not in the earth — there are still in the sea.

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Verse 14 (Chapter 20) — Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

The first death for an unbeliever is physical death and the second death is final judgment followed by eternity in the lake of fire.

At the final judgment death is abolished.

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Chapter 21


Verse 1 (Chapter 21) — Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

There is no longer any sea because the sea represents danger and risk:

The sea gave up the dead that were in it. . . . (Revelation 20:13)

The sea also represents that which separates us from God. The final destination of unbelievers is represented by a sea — the lake of fire. In the New Heaven and New Earth there is no longer any separation:

And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. . . . (Revelation 15:2)

The sea also represents a barrier. In the New Heaven and New Earth there are no more barriers:

Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. (Jonah 1:15)

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Verse 2 (Chapter 21) — I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

The New Jerusalem is the reward for believers. This is another image of the glory that awaits us in the New Heaven and New Earth. Based on verse 3 we see that it represents that God now lives with us and is no longer separate from us.

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Verse 3 (Chapter 21) — And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God."

This is the significance of the New Jerusalem. It is not a literal city.

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Verse 4 (Chapter 21) — He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Premillennialists are mistaken is applying verses with these images to the 1,000 yearmillennium — they apply to the New Heaven and New Earth. An important example:

Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. (Isaiah 65:17-19)

Premillennialists commonly apply this passage to the millennium but in the context it is clearly referring to the New Heaven and New Earth.

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Verse 6 (Chapter 21) — He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life."

We will finally get to drink from the living water which is eternal life in Christ.

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Verse 7 (Chapter 21) — He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

It is important to stress that believers must endure for their whole life and not give up. This would especially be true for the first readers of the book of Revelation who were beginning to be persecuted by the Romans. It is a common theme in this book.

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Verse 8 (Chapter 21) — But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

The 2nd death is final judgment. Therefore, the 1st death for unbelievers is physical death in which they do not enjoy the benefit of being present with the Lord as believers do.

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Verse 9 (Chapter 21) — One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."

It is significant that what we see in the next verse is the New Jerusalem. Therefore the New Jerusalem represents the redeemed church, the bride of Christ.

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Verse 10 (Chapter 21) — And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

The church descends from heaven where it resided and inhabits the New Heaven and New Earth which God prepared for it.

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Verse 11 (Chapter 21) — It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

Images demonstrating the glory of this blessing.

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Verse 14 (Chapter 21) — The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The church is built on the foundation of the apostles.

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Verse 16 (Chapter 21) — The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.

The number 12,000 which was also used in Revelation chapter 7.

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Verse 22 (Chapter 21) — I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

The whole purpose for having a temple was so that we would have a place to meet the Lord. But in the New Heaven and New Earth the Lord is always present.

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Verse 26 (Chapter 21) — The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.

Even in describing the New Heaven and New Earth, John is using images from the Old Testament.

In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. (Isaiah 2:2)

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Chapter 22


Verse 1 (Chapter 22) — Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb

Jesus is the source of living water:

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14)

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Verse 2 (Chapter 22) — . . . Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

An image from Ezekiel:

Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing. (Ezekiel 47:12)

Humans finally have access to the tree of life so now we can live forever in a glorified body.

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Verse 3 (Chapter 22) — No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.

The curse has been lifted. There is no longer any sin.

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Verse 4 (Chapter 22) — They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

We will be able to look into the face of God because our sin problem will be resolved. God's name will be on our foreheads (instead of the name of the Beast for unbelievers).

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Verse 5 (Chapter 22) — There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Night represents all that is evil or unclean.

It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light. (John 11:10)

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Verse 6 (Chapter 22) — The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place."

These things will take place "soon." There is an urgency in the whole matter.

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Verse 10 (Chapter 22) — Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near."

The prophecies in the book of Revelation are not sealed as several of Daniel's prophecies were. This means that the first readers of the book could understand the meaning. It was not written only for us who read it 1,900 years later — it had direct application to the first readers.

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Verse 12 (Chapter 22) — Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

Throughout the New Testament there is always an emphasis on our actions, and that God judges based on actions.

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Verse 14 (Chapter 22) — Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

Strong evidence that the New Jerusalem is the New Heaven and New Earth since only those who are clean may enter.

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Verse 20 (Chapter 22) — He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Jesus is coming back right on schedule. It has been 1,900 years and could be another 1,900 years or more. But there is nothing else that must happen before He comes to judge the world.

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